An Approach to Easter

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Sigrid Fowler

            Is there a better approach to Easter than taking some time to meditate on Jesus Christ? If that “some time” turns out to be a lifetime, even then we won’t do justice to the topic or the person. That the Most High should become human is, to begin with, a staggering realization worthy of all the time we can spend searching out it and enjoying it.  It takes the breath away to hear God the Son saying, as only he can, to our spirits: “Come to me all you weary ones and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11: 28-29). God, meek and lowly? On this earth, power doesn’t manifest itself that way. This is something new, a new kind dominion, a new kind of wisdom. James writes: “the wisdom that is from above is pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to entreaties, full of mercy and good fruits, not partial, not hypocritical” (James 3: 17). Who is like this? Who but Jesus . . . and by his Spirit those who in him get through one day at a time paying attention to his leading, seeking to be obedient.

            Here’s something else about Jesus Christ, something we celebrate every Easter. He is the wellspring of life. Hear him say, “For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10: 17-18). He puts it another way when he says, “I came that they [i.e., my sheep]  may have life and that in abundance” (John 10: 10). Sometime this week, read John 6. In this chapter, Jesus says, “I will raise him up” no fewer than four times (John 6: 39, 40, 44, 54). Remembering the importance of repetition in Hebrew and in the mind of the Hebrew people, we have to say that Jesus was being emphatic!

            He also speaks emphatically of himself as “the bread of life” (John 35, 41, 48, 51, 57-58): “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6: 35). He restates the point, elaborating on the difference between those who feast upon him and those who ate the manna in the wilderness: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6: 47-51 ESV). Jesus is perhaps introducing the topic of the Eucharist, which he would soon institute. But maybe the meaning here is broader: We live by feasting on him in every moment of spiritual fellowship, every instance in which we have a new sense of who our Redeemer is, every moment of realization that obedience is the best, most satisfying path. He is our life as surely as bread sustains our bodies.

            Something else linking bread and Jesus Christ comes to mind. Our Savior inspires the godly life, and his Spirit in his people prompts the kind of wisdom James was talking about—purity, gentleness, a peaceable and merciful temperament, the inclination to pursue good and avoid wrong, to be impartial and sincere. These things I found in abundance in the frontpage Advertiser story about the Cleveland family and their bread ministry. I had to think about Jesus and the things he said about bread, about how those who belong to him are nourished and fed even as this family nurtures those they help with all that bread that pours out into the community from their kitchen. My hat is off to Janice and her family. Brava! All of John 6 is theoretical, the stuff of mere academia, if we don’t believe and live what Jesus is saying. When we do, good things flow out into the world from the life we have received from our living source. It’s the best life.

            May you have a blessed Easter Day, nourished by the Spirit of the one who died for everybody in the world who will receive him and live in his abundance.